US Labor Department's OSHA cites Talladega, Ala., metal fabricator
for safety and health violations; penalties total more than $48,000
TALLADEGA, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Weaver and Sons Inc. for 16 safety and health violations at the company's steel fabrication and sheet metal shop in Talladega. OSHA began an inspection as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program that focuses on industries with higher-than-average injury and illness rates. Proposed penalties total $48,510.
The company was cited for one repeat health violation carrying a penalty of $6,160 for failing to conduct medical evaluations of employees who were required to wear respirators. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violation was identified during a 2009 OSHA inspection.
Two serious health citations with $6,930 in penalties include not acting to protect workers from exposure to iron oxide fumes above the permissible exposure limit and failing to monitor exposure to chromium, which OSHA detected on lunch tables. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Ten serious safety violations with $35,420 in penalties include the company allegedly allowing employees to use a lathe, drill press, band saw, mechanical power press and milling machines that lacked the proper guarding to prevent employees from being pulled into the machines; using compressed air for cleaning machinery that was stronger than the required pressure; using electrical equipment not in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions; allowing use of a damaged electrical cord; and allowing an uncovered opening in the electrical panel. Other violations included stairs that lacked rails, exit doors not marked, spray booths not protected with automatic sprinklers, using a lacquer thinner of less than a flashpoint of 100 degrees Fahrenheit used to clean spray nozzles and equipment, not performing frequent crane inspections and not load-testing a hook after it had been welded.
Three other-than-serious safety and health citations with no monetary penalties include failing to maintain a log of injuries and illnesses for 2009, allowing abrasive blasting dust to accumulate on exterior floor of the blasting booth and having an inoperable pressure measurement instrument. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
"Employees do not need to risk their health for a paycheck," said Roberto Sanchez, director of OSHA's Birmingham Area Office. "We found that employees were being exposed to both immediate amputation hazards by working around unguarded machines, as well as long-term hazards from breathing in iron oxide fumes that can cause irreversible health effects."
Weaver and Sons has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Birmingham office; telephone 205-731-1534. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.